Jean-Jacques Cornish

Nelson Mandela’s former prison to go green

Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent most of his 27 years as a political prisoner is soon to become a symbol of renewable energy.

The former penal isle off the Cape Town coast for hundreds of apartheid’s opponents has become a tourist attraction is a pilot project for cleaner, renewable energyin the democratic South Africa.

South Africa’s trying to break its reliance on coal-fired energy.

Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom says heritage sites like Robben Island, botanical gardens and the country’s vast National Parks have been identified in a high-profile programme replacing dirty power with solar energy.

Robben Island will lead the process aimed to boost tourism by one-and-a-half million euros a year

Spokesman for the former prison Quinton Mtyala says installing the smaller, more efficient solar panels now available will reduce energy demand and cut the facility’s carbon footprint.

Mtyala estimates the island’s consumed a million euros in energy over the past year.

Diesel generators are used to produce the power and drive the desalination plant on the island.

South Africa suffers regular blackouts as its ageing power stations fail to keep up with increased demand.

The power outages are crippling growth in Africa’s most sophisticated economy.

However tourism last year last year brought in nine-and-a-half million visitors who contributed nearly 10 percent to the country’s GDP.

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.